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The Food Bus: A Fresh Food Market on Wheels

Updated on October 11, 2011
fresh vegetables
fresh vegetables

Eliminating the Food Deserts

Steve Casey, a Chicago activist, grew weary of the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in his community and decided to do something about it. It was back in 2006 when his neighborhood was rightly labeled a food desert.

What is a food desert?

A food desert is a community that has severely limited access to fresh vegetables and fruits, and as a result, the people in the community suffer from health issues related to a very poor diet. This is a common problem in many urban communities. Not only are supermarkets and greengrocers limited but there tends to be an influx of fast food restaurants.

According to Steve Casey, there was seldom a fresh vegetable any where in sight, leaving Chicago residents in the desert with a higher risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Surely, his family also deserved better.

Mr. Casey knew that by just creating a farmer's market it would limit access to many people in different communities. He came up with the idea of bringing food to the people in each community - and decided a bus would be the best way to do it - a market on wheels.

Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market is created!

With the help of local activists, $40,000 was raised and used to gut an old municipal bus and 'Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market' was created. Partnering with Architecture for Humanity the bus was transformed into a one aisle supermarket; people board and are assisted by a helpful friendly staff. There is a certain joy in seeing people so happy to have access to quality foods.

Steve Casey likes to think of himself as an ice cream man in a sense when he travels through the communities. But instead of ice cream, he is delivering organic fruits and vegetables. Vegetables offered include organic collard greens, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes and much more. Fruit includes apples and watermelon. Produce is kept affordable because the mobile market works in partnership with an organic distributor.

There is never a shortage of customers. The website has a map of the bus stop locations and on many occasions you may see as many as 70 people waiting on line for the arrival of the bus. How lovely is this to know that the market will come to you, and it is just a matter of knowing the schedule and going out to shop for real food.

The mantra back in the 1960's that I remember so well is: "You are what you eat!"

Nutrition used to matter but now It seems we have been tricked into counting calories instead of looking at the nutritional value of the food we eat. The idea of counting calories came about because of the high amount of processed foods we eat. No one thought about counting calories when food was not an industrialized and processed product. We simply ate well.

The Future

Steve Casey is now working on adding at least five more buses to his mobile food fleet. He would like to be able to bring his buses to schools and senior facilities. In his opinion, food is a right and a matter of social justice. I couldn't agree more.

An answer to a food desert in Wisconsin

Tired of a food desert has also been addressed in a different way in Wisconsin by Will Allen who created the total urban farm. Mr. Allen was recognized and awarded by the MacArthur Foundation for his amazing project. He too wanted fresh food in his community. (See link below)

Just a bit of food for thought - Keep in mind that much of the food we buy in the supermarkets we may have access to - that we consider fresh - may be genetically modified and as Americans we have no right to know. My issue is not that these companies keep telling us there's no proof of harm caused by genetically modified food. That's backwards. My question is - what is the safety and health benefits of genetically modified foods? There is no answer to this.

Have you noticed when you shop for produce it has no aroma? Walking into a restaurant, or even preparing soup at home - what happened to the lovely mouthwatering aromas of our food? I used to be so happy salivating - but that thrill is gone.

Much of what we eat here in the U.S. is banned in Europe and other countries would not even consider eating what we call food. (See link below for food banned in Europe but not America)

For more information and suggested reading about healthy eating, please see the links below.

For more information about the Fresh Moves Mobile Produce bus there is a website:


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